YOUNGSTOWN - It is a dream that has not been fulfilled. A paycheck that has not yet been cashed.
Youngstown State University students attending "63: A Commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington'' believe there still is much work for their generation to do in the quest to fulfill the spirit of the dream articulated by Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years ago.
"I think it is time that people start swallowing their pride and accepting what is," freshman Sidney Muri said. "It frustrates me a lot that there is so much racism that still is going on today. It should not be like that. We are all the same."
Tribune Chronicle / Raymond L. Smith
The start of Youngstown State University’s commemoration of the 1963 march on Washington was delayed Wednesday as participants first watched President Barack Obama deliver an address from the Washington Memorial.
Muri was one of nearly 70 students, faculty members and their guests who attended the presentation Wednesday in the Chestnut room of Kilcawley Center.
Tashan Jordan Mitchell, 18, a YSU business student, said there is less racism in the nation than was experienced in the early 1960s.
"Now that we have a black president, it appears we have more equality," Mitchell said.
Student Daylan Motton said he wants change.
"Things have progressed, but I believe they still can get better," Motton said. "People of my generation are able to do a lot. But things can be better."
Motton said he would like to see kids take their education more seriously, instead of worrying about being out there out of the streets. He wants young people more involved in the fight for their civil rights, rather than watching on their computer screens.
"We can use more programs in which young people can be actively involved," he said. "I believe we are the generation to bridge the gap that Dr. King talked about. It is our responsibility. If we don't do it, it will not be bridged at all."
Terence Langston, a sophomore from Youngstown, said he wanted to gain more knowledge about the 1963 march.
"I want to get focus on my mission and plan of life," Langston said. "I want to get all of the negativity out of me. I want to raise my son in the right way and to be a successful student and businessman."
"There are a lot of us that did not have father figures in their lives," he said. "We are supposed to teach our children to live their lives in the right way. We are examples for them to follow."
Damon Poole, a YSU student from Cleveland, attended the program to honor both the March and the 50th anniversary of his fraternity, Iota Phi Theta Inc.
"I didn't know that the 'I Have a Dream' portion of King's speech was more free style rather than something he planned," Poole said. "I didn't know there were 10 other speakers who gave presentations during the March On Washington."
Poole said his generation needs to stop the violence.
Before the YSU program officially began, the audience watched President Barack Obama's speech honoring the participants of the 1963 march. They then listened, in its entirety, to King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
Sylvia J. Imler, interim director of the multicultural and diversity office at YSU, was the keynote speaker. She described being a child being raised in Dallas when she watched the speech on a large black-and-white television.
"I watched as blacks and whites marched together in Washington, D.C., which was big news back then," Imler said.
"I went to elementary and junior high schools where all of the students, teachers and administrators were black. I went to a church where all of the members and its leadership were black. Every person in my neighborhood was black," she said.
Imler described her family going to the state fair, but they had could only on ''colored days.''
"I didn't understand why we had separate water fountains that were colored only," she said. "I really did not give it much thought about my life until I heard Dr. Martin Luther King's speech."
Key words stood out: "Segregation" "Poverty." "Discrimination."
However, it was not until her family moved to a predominantly white neighborhood and school that she realized that some people were not as accepting as she thought they would be, should be or could be.
"It was at that point when I had to make decisions on what kind of person I wanted to be," she said. "I had to decide whether to drink from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
"Or in spite of what was happening around me, I could learn from the challenges and take the opportunities that were before me," she said. "We all have circumstances in which we have to make choices."
Imler said she decided to strive for excellence.
"That is the message that Dr. King was talking about," she said.